Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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ROBIN, n. Also robbin. As in Eng. a dim. or familiar form (through O.Fr. Robin) of the Christian name Robert. Sc. usages:

1. Combs. and Phrs.: (1) Robin-a-ree(rie), a fanciful name given to a burning stick which is passed from player to player in a children's game to the accompaniment of a rhyme, the purpose being to keep the stick alight as long as possible by waving it about (Per., Ayr. 1968). Cf. Dingle-Dousie; (2) Robbin Breestie, the Robin Redbreast (Wgt. 1968); (3) Robin i' the hedge, (i) the goose-grass, Galium aparine (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) R.43); (ii) the ground-ivy, Nepeta glechoma (Ib. 44); (4) Robin ran i' the scroog, the ground-ivy, Nepeta glechoma (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) R.44). Cf. (3) (ii); (5) Robin Redtail, the redstart, Ruticilla phoenicurus (Cai. 1907 J. Horne County Cai. 369); (6) Robin-rin-the-dyke, the goose-grass, Galium aparine (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (7) Robin-rin-the-hedge, -run-a- (Lnk. 1832 W. Patrick Plants Lnk. 93), the goose-grass, Galium aparine (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 413; Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) R.43; Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 100; Rxb. 1876 Science Gossip 39; Dmf. 1886 B. & H. Plant-Names; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcb. 1968). Also common in Eng. dial.; (8) Robin-roond-the-hedge, = (7) (Ayr. 1899 Montgomerie-Fleming; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Wgt., Rxb. 1968); (9) Robin's doon, a remark indicating that someone is in a sullen mood, with brows lowered (Bwk.2 1948); (10) Robin's pincushion, the bedeguar or rose-gall (Ags.6 1947). Also in Eng. dial. (1) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 410:
In passing the brunt-stick round the ring, the following rhyme is said: — “Robin-a-Ree, ye'll no dee wi' me, Tho' I birl ye roun' a three-times and three, O Robin-a-Ree, O Robin-a-Ree, O dinna let Robin-a-Reerie dee”.
(2) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 412:
The tane o' them was the Robbin Breestie, And the tither the Wullie Wagtail.
(5) Bwk. 1853  G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 100:
A common weed, called . . . Robin-run-the-dyke when it creeps over or along the base of our stone walls with a more branched and closer growth.
(7) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 163:
Nettles, and robin-rin-the-hedge.
Uls. 1880  Patterson Gl.:
Robin-run-the-hedge. The juice of this plant is extracted and boiled with sugar, and given as a remedy in whooping-cough.
Ags. 1899  C. Sievwright Garland 17:
The ground-ivy and the robin-rin-the-hedge.

2. The wren (I.Sc. 1837 R. Dunn Ornithol. Guide 82; Sh. 1899 Evans and Buckley Fauna Shet. 79, Sh. 1968). Also in combs. Robin-redbreast (Sh. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 35). An I.Sc. usage from the popular belief that the wren was the robin's wife. Sh. 1864  Zoologist XXII. 9095:
When a Shetlander talks of the robin he almost invariably means the wren, a bird which is almost common in some parts of these islands.

3. A child's name for the penis (ne., m. and s.Sc. 1968).

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"Robin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2018 <>



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